NORTHEAST WILDERNESS TRUST
17 STATE STREET, SUITE 302
MONTPELIER, VT 05602
info [@] newildernesstrust.org
“The clock is ticking. Scalable natural climate solutions are urgently needed to combat the worst of climate change. What Northeast Wilderness Trust is attempting with the Wildlands Partnership is a science-based approach to increase the carbon sequestration of the Northeast’s forest.”
Bill McKibben, Author & 350.org Co-founder
All enrolled properties must be permanently conserved as ‘forever-wild’ through a conservation easement held by Northeast Wilderness Trust.
There is no cost to enroll; land trusts enter the carbon market with zero out of pocket expenses, and zero financial risk for project development.
Each land trust will temporarily ‘lend’ its carbon rights to Wildlands Carbon for the duration of the project, which is up to 40 years. The carbon rights return to each land trust when the project ends.
Wildlands Carbon enrolls land trusts through a “cohort” system. Cohorts are groups of landowners who enroll on the same date. All land trusts in a cohort receive the same revenue-sharing terms and follow the same project development schedule for inventories, verification, credit issuance, and sales.
Wildlands Carbon will develop carbon offsets for sale in the voluntary carbon market, under the Improved Forest Management (IFM) protocol of the American Carbon Registry (ACR).
The Wildlands Carbon legal framework allows the project to be managed centrally by the “Project Proponent,” without asking any enrolled individual land trust to take on the responsibility or liability of managing the project. The Project Proponent will be the Wildlands Carbon LLC, of which SIG Carbon will be the Project Manager, and Northeast Wilderness Trust the Project Sponsor.
The Project Manager, SIG Carbon, will manage the project for the entire life of the project, including project feasibility analysis, registration with the ACR, carbon inventories and modelling, double-verification, credit issuance, reporting, and sales.
The Project Sponsor, Northeast Wilderness Trust, will conduct land trust outreach, assist in successful project implementation and monitor the project for the best interests of the landowners.
The Wildlands Carbon aggregation concept reduces economic and administrative burdens for individual land trusts by pooling resources and sharing costs equally across all land trusts in a cohort. This aggregation protects land trusts from legal risks.
Each land trust will have an individual agreement with Wildlands Carbon, so land trusts will not be responsible for each other nor will they have any liability to each other.
Wildlands Carbon creates access to the voluntary carbon market, but does not guarantee what the state of that market will be over the 40-year term of the project. The 40-year term is divided into two 20-year crediting periods. A review at the end of the first 20 years will determine the viability of the second 20-year period. If the market is performing, the second 20-year period commences.
In advance of enrolling any cohort, Wildlands Carbon LLC will seek financing from investors and/or credit buyers that will provide participating land trusts with both a prepayment for each forested acre enrolled in the project and a guaranteed royalty payment. The royalty payment will be a fixed percentage of the net profit from credits sales over the life of the project, and will be proportional to the share of offsets generated on each respective enrolled property. Once a financial offer is secured for the cohort, the financial terms will be offered to the land trusts in the cohort and incorporated in the Landowner Enrollment Agreement for their enrollment in the project.
Each cohort member will sign the same Landowner Agreement with Wildlands Carbon LLC, receiving the same terms as every other member of their cohort.
The structure of prepayment plus revenue share balances land trusts’ needs to have some certainty about their carbon income, with the potential to maximize their revenue if the value of forever-wild forest carbon credits continues to rise. There is also the possibility that the value of forever-wild forest carbon credits will decline.
Financial transparency is the goal—revenue-sharing agreements and the calculations behind the distribution of net revenue to each land trust will be managed in the open for project participants.
“The Wildlands Partnership has offered a novel approach to conserving large tracts of land in Frenchman Bay Conservancy’s (FBC) service area. By leveraging this new source of funding, FBC has brought thousands of acres of new lands into forever-wild protection through direct purchase and working with conservation buyers who were attracted to the forever-wild outcome and the income-generating carbon offsets of the Wildlands Carbon Program. We work in a landscape that has experienced fast rotation logging for generations, and to let the forest rest and restore itself while still projecting income generation for years to come is an incredible opportunity for conservation here.”
Kat Deely, Director of Conservation of Frenchman Bay Conservancy
Questions about carbon credits? Reach out to Tricia at tricia [@] newildernesstrust.org or 802.224.1000 ext. 116.
Photography: Leaf by Stephen Matter; Tip-ups in northern forest © Susan C. Morse.